Artist Spotlight with Robin Rosenthal

Photo by Indiana Nash.
Robin Rosenthal in her studio.Photo by Indiana Nash. Robin Rosenthal in her studio.

By Indiana Nash
Gazette reporter
NISKAYUNA — “I am inspired by the process of painting,” said Robin Rosenthal, a local artist and painter.
She is always looking for other ways to grow: “If I’m not challenged by it, then what’s the point?” she said.
Kimmo, her husband, is a professor of mathematics at Union College and one of her biggest supporters. James and Greg, her two sons, support and inspire her work from a distance. But Rosenthal is as self-motivated as an artist can be.
“I work from about 9 in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon every day,” said Rosenthal. When she first began painting in 2004, she would answer phone calls, but she had to stop that. “It was tough to tell people not to call me, but now my friends and family know that they have to call before 9 or after 3,” she said with a smile.
Her studio is on the top floor of her home and it is probably the room she spends the most time in. The carpeted flooring is covered with a plastic sheet made to look like tile that catches any paint splatters. On one side of the studio, Rosenthal has several shelves dedicated to decoratively displaying and holding various props for her pieces. There are brightly colored cups stacked semi-precariously, glass dishes of all hues, and tablecloths with a smattering of patterns.
“These are the sorts of things I most like to paint, especially glass. Because it’s not the glass you paint but what is underneath and how it works with the objects you can see through it,” said Rosenthal. She does a painting every day and runs a blog, which holds her to this.
“I announced that I was going to start doing a daily painting on the blog and I knew when I did that, I had to really follow through,” said Rosenthal. Day one of a typical painting involves setting up a composition of objects which are visually intriguing and then drawing them out on the canvas. On day two, she will paint the entire piece. She is now a handful of posts away from her 500th blog post (meaning she’s painted almost 250 pieces since beginning her blog).
“I’m a wet-on-wet painter or an alla prima painter,” said Rosenthal. For those not art-term savvy, this simply means that the artist doesn’t let the paint dry before finishing a piece. This is how she was taught by Karen O’Neil and a few other artists.
Rosenthal began taking lessons as soon as she retired from 26 years of working as an occupational therapist, in 2004. “As soon as I retired, I told myself ‘This is it! You can start working on art now’ ” she said.
Since then, she’s taken many lessons and attended lots of intensive conferences to sharpen her skills. But the majority of her progress is driven by her devotion to the work.
In 2013, she was invited to become a member of the Oakroom Artists group. The group is known for including only outstanding artists in the area, so she was honored at the chance. Rosenthal also exhibits at the Stockade Art Show and at Saratoga’s Art in the Park event.
“I also paint pet portraits because it’s fun and people tend to love them,” said Rosenthal. She donates 10 percent of the sale price to an animal shelter or sanctuary of the buyer’s choice.
Her next challenge: painting on a larger scale and teaching.
“I need to paint more regularly on a larger scale so that when I have exhibits I can have a stock of larger-sized canvases but it’s hard for me to do,” said Rosenthal.
As far as teaching is concerned, she is going to start offering lessons to adults sometime this summer. “Friends and people at different shows ask me if I’ve ever thought about teaching or giving lessons and I think I’m ready to give that a try next,” said Rosenthal.

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